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Noel Dunne
Machinery Editor

Weather woes

Well readers, as I pen this month’s column, we are preparing to wave goodbye to summer 2023. And, looking back over the last few weeks, we can see clearly how volatile this world of farming can be.

All over the country, the harvest has been stop-start. In certain parts, farmers are having to bring livestock to higher ground, fields are starting to get saturated, and second-cut silage is well back because getting the machines out into the fields is a challenge. This is, without doubt, going to have a knock-on effect on silage quality. Cows are slipping back in milk yield in some parts, animals are being housed, and pits of silage have been open in extreme cases. As per normal, we are farming between the showers, the never-ending July showers.
I was in Germany a few weeks ago and they were having similar weather to ourselves, with a stop-start harvest also. At the same time, Europe was experiencing severe heat waves, with many regions on red alert as temperatures reached record highs particularly in the Mediterranean.
There is no doubt now that Ireland’s climate is heading on a warmer and wetter trajectory. This will lead to changes in farming practices, the varieties of crops sown and in what regions of the country they are sown.
As some farmers go down the organic route, we will see more multi-species crops grown, less farm manure and less chemical fertilisers being used as farmers look to farm in a more environmentally friendly and cost-effective way. Farming in the future will be a completely different landscape as prices of inputs and prices of commodities do battle. There are interesting and challenging times ahead, that is for certain.
On the machinery front, last month’s Farm Tractor and Machinery Trade Association (FTMTA) machinery show in Punchestown was a well-attended event with stand numbers and visitors up year on year. The event fell foul of the wonderful July weather on the last day, but organisers and exhibitors were still happy. I spoke to a few farmers and contractors at the event and they were very satisfied with what they saw.
Plans for this year’s Ploughing Championships are well underway with trackways and utilities being introduced as we speak on the site in Ratheniska, Co. Laois. This year’s event will, it is expected, attract record crowds and stand numbers, and it is advised to book your tickets early online or by contacting the NPA head office.
Claas in Germany has significantly expanded its product recently in the compact tractor segment with the addition of three new series with horsepower ranging from 75-103hp. Along with two new Xerion large-scale tractors with horsepower from 585-653hp to complete the expansion, they have also launched new Claas Disco large-scale mowers. And finally, it has now completed its combine family with an all-new entry level combine ideal for smaller-scale farms. This new Claas Evion range will offer three new five-walker combines that are easy to operate and affordable. Claas feels that this segment is a very important one and the new range is designed to fit in to it.
As we went to press news had just circulated that Hanlon Machinery in
Co. Louth is to lose the John Deere tractor agency on October 31 after 42 years. I would like to wish Michael Hanlon and his family and staff all the best for the future.
Until next month, farm wisely, farm safely.